August 28, 2004 16:48 | Political

Center cut

Jim Moore's Journal: Addiction to the Center

Friend Jim makes a dire observation:

This reminds me of the alcoholic wag who said, "I have lost my wife and family, my job, my health--and my memory is getting poor.  Of course I drink!  What the hell would you do?"

Here is the same line from the DLC:  "The Democratic Party has lost the Senate, the House, and the Presidency.  People see us as unprincipled and without vision.  Of course we need to run like Republicans!  What the hell would you do?"

There is a rather precise definition of addiction, in cybernetic terms:

  1. A signal indicates that a problem has been encountered that requires the system to make a change in its behavior.  For example, losing one's health might be a signal to an alcoholic to stop drinking and seek recovery with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous.
  2. The operator of the system turns off the signal, or turns off awareness of the signal.  This action is generally called a "palliative"--i.e., it makes you feel better, but does not cure the true problem.  In the case of the alcoholic, further drinking turns off anxiety, guilt, shame, depression--at least temporarily.
  3. Because the underlying problem  has not been addressed, the condition of the system continues to decline.
  4. [Return to #1, and loop the program again.]


Most Americans are tired of right and left--tired, frankly of Republicans as well as Democrats.  Look, please, at the polls on non-voting and the expansion in numbers of independent voters. Most Americans would like a  newspectrum entirely, a new perspective.  Americans would--I believe--reward a party that creatively reframed our fundamental challenges.


A Democratic victory, however wide [or narrow -ed.], will not be a victory of ideas, but of tactics.  It will not have advanced political thought in our country, it will have further demeaned it.

We will not be on the road to recovery, we will be one loop deeper into addiction.  And as a nation, the process of this campaign is likely to leave us more misinformed, less effectively led, and more turned off.


Unfortunately Democrats may have a hell of a hangover from the campaign--having spent millions of dollars promoting a Republican point of view.

Remind me to rant about the Center... and how this election is not about progress or any such thing. It's about slamming the brakes. Not just on the hawks, the Reps et al, but the whole damn thing.


It seems like the time is ripe for the old duopoly to splinter. Like a dividing embryo that evolves into a more complex creature, the internal divisions within the Two Big Parties themselves seem ready to splinter into multiple parties. There are honourable Republicans who are dismayed at the actions of the present Administration, for example, and there are Dems like "Joementum" Lieberman who are Republican in all but party affiliation. Look at the slate of candidates for the Democratic leadership this past year; could each of these candidates not claim to represent at least some of the people all of the time? (Yes, even Dennis Kucinich!)

To take the analogy further, like an organism that grows from stem cells into specialized tissues, the parties within most mature multiparty democracies have sharper focuses and their own demographics. Here, we have centrist, rightist, separatist/nationalist, enviro-left and social-left parties, and to some degree all of their opinions weigh on the shape of legislation. In a minority goverment, the assent of (a) coalition partner(s) is essential.

In the US, the centrist elements of the two major parties might merge; the environmental, green, family farm and hunters' lobbies could find common, if sometimes fractious ground; the economic and cultural conservatives, often at odds with each other, could decide to call it a day and each go it alone. And then there are many non-WASP sectors of the US population who are under-represented today, yet may hold significant sway in the next 50 years as they reach critical mass, Latinos for one. Traditionally, the Democrats have represented most non-Orange County ethnicities, but what happens when they decide they'll have a better chance going it alone?

Of course, none of this may come to pass, but as things like energy resources get scarcer, the already widening gap between rich and poor will be exacerbated, and things might get ugly if people decide to get tribal about "getting their fair share" and other people decide that no, they won't.
Imagine Watts, the Rodney King riots and the FLQ crisis x 1000....